For quite some time, I’ve sensed God is about to do something in a very corporate, significant way. I sense a stirring in the winds, a stirring in the mulberries—a time of change and renewing; a new era, a new beginning; a season of transitions. I was looking back at an article I wrote in November 1995, and it’s a message that is even more relevant today than when I first wrote it all those years ago. I have updated and re-worked it a bit, but originally it was titled, “If we go…He will come.” You may get a chuckle from that title if you remember the movie Field of Dreams from many years ago, famous for the line, “If you build it, they will come.” But in Luke 10:1-2, the Lord promises us that He is sending laborers into every town which He is about to enter. I believe it’s time for us to be prepared and ready for the harvest. People are waiting for us—and if we go, He will come.
“After these things, the Lord appointed seventy others also and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go. Then He said to them, ‘The harvest is truly great but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into the harvest. Go your way, I will send you out as lambs among wolves’.” (Luke 10:1-2)
I believe all true Christians would say they desire to be used by God. I know I’ve said, since the beginning when I got radically touched by God, “I’ll do whatever You want and go wherever You want me to go. I want to be used by You, Lord.” I believe we would also agree that if God speaks something to our hearts that He wants us to do, our desire is to obey Him. Through our obedience, He fulfills the desires of our hearts while doing a work in us and through us. When we are faithful to go where the Lord leads us, He meets us, and souls are added to the Kingdom.
EARS TO HEAR
The question posed to us is this: When we hear God speak something to our hearts, will we obey and be faithful to go where He leads? It’s both a question and a promise—because if we do go, He will come.
As a ministry, we are faced with this same question. Will we be faithful to hear what the Lord is speaking and go forward to reach out to this generation? During the past few years, the Lord has been unfolding His word to us through dreams, impressions, and words that have come forth through our elders and staff and confirmed through other friends of the ministry. I will share some of those things with you as this message unfolds, and I pray you will hear the Lord’s heartbeat for this generation and His calling on our lives.
Let me preface this with an exhortation. Within some circles, it is common during services for someone to deliver a word from the Lord. But sometimes, it seems, it is not really heard or received into the hearts of the congregation, especially when it happens often. During some of the services and gatherings we have had throughout the years, we ask anyone with a word or impression to submit it to those in leadership before it is spoken to the congregation. We want to make sure it’s in the context of the Holy Spirit speaking to everyone rather than someone just feeling a personal passion about something or an impression only for themselves. We believe this is proper biblical order and prevents confusion during the meetings. However, when a word is delivered, it is important that we take it seriously as God is trying to convey His heart to us.
This leads me to present a question, “Do we have ears to hear what the Spirit of the Lord would say to us?” Have we begun to take the Lord and His word for granted because we hear it so often? Have we become weary and discouraged in the journey and therefore are not as sensitive to God’s voice as we once were? We may initially say, “Of course not!” But when we look at the children of Israel, we can see a similarity between them and the Church today.
In Numbers 21:4 we read, “Then they journeyed to Mount Hor by the Way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way.” The first three verses of that chapter explain how God fulfilled His promises, and throughout the book of Exodus we read of the wonderful works God did for His people. Yet the people became discouraged.
“The people spoke against God and against Moses, ‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water and our souls loathe this worthless bread.” (Numbers 21:5)
Another translation says, “detest this worthless bread.” This “bread” they are talking about is the manna sent from God! They detested the manna God Himself provided during their desert time! Though they received daily provision from the Lord, in a time of weariness they lost focus of God’s goodness. Often in times of weariness and discouragement, we too detest the very life-giving things of God. During these times, will we hear what the Lord is saying and then will we obey? We must neither detest nor loathe what God is speaking to us as the Church. In order for us to hear what God is saying, our hearts must be open to receive from Him. Simple obedience, to go when God says go, is the highest form of worship.
During one of our Friday Night Alive services that we held in the 1990s and 2000s, one of the leaders brought forth a prophetic word, and a few minutes later an elder of the ministry came forward and asked us a question. He asked if we really heard what our brother had shared. Did we hear the word of the Lord spoken to us and did we receive it? We were exhorted not take God’s Word lightly nor for granted.
POVERTY & PERSECUTION; PEACE & PROSPERITY
It seems that in the midst of God’s great provision in our lives we can begin to take Him for granted, including his direction, just like the children of Israel began to loathe and detest God’s manna, His provision for them. The people became discouraged and wondered how long they would be in the wilderness. They murmured and complained and failed to give thanks for God’s goodness.
Likewise, when we become discouraged, we can lose our vision of hope and destination. Our focus shifts from the Lord and onto our circumstances. These pressures and circumstances should be a catalyst to draw us closer to the Lord, not further away. It is during these intense times that we recognize our total dependence upon Him. When we go through trials, we are very much aware of our desperate need for the Lord’s intervention. Yet as God brings the breakthroughs, we can become ungrateful, seeing our lack rather than God’s abundant provision and grace in the midst of the circumstances.
Throughout the past 2000 years, there have been two things the Church has consistently overcome: poverty and persecution. God always prospers the Church in the midst of poverty so we can continue to bring the Gospel of good news. And in times of persecution, the Church increases and grows, and the Gospel continues to go forth. Throughout Church history, revival occurs in the midst of persecution. Even today, in nations where the Church is persecuted—places like Nigeria, Uganda, Iran, Indonesia, the Middle East, and China—the Church is flourishing, in spite of adverse circumstances. Church, we will not be stopped if we keep our eyes fixed on the Lord and our hearts and vision focused on our destination.
Conversely, there are two things the Church has not handled well: The Church fails to grow during long periods of peace and prosperity. God does want His people to be at peace and to prosper but not for self-adulation, self-benefit, self-absorption, or self-righteousness. Instead, He gives us peace and prosperity so we can be good stewards, making sure the Gospel is going forth and nations are being discipled.
It seems that during seasons of ease and comfort, we get distracted and forget that our total fulfillment is found only in the Lord. We become complacent and dull of hearing, focusing our eyes on the material world. We become self-confident, self-reliant, and self-absorbed rather than relying totally on Him. When this happens, we must quickly turn back to the Lord for it is only in that place of intimacy with Him that we find true satisfaction.
Jesus set the example for us, as in Luke 10, and challenges us that we can walk in the fullness of the godhead bodily when we set our hearts and our focus on God and His purposes. He also set an example in John 4:34: “My food, is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.” Likewise, if we want true satisfaction for the longing of our souls, we must be willing to do the will of God. He goes on to say in John 4:35: “Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields for they are already white unto harvest.”
Jesus told the disciples to lift up their eyes—which means they must have been looking at something other than the harvest. He is also saying to us, “Look up!” We need to look up from our own two feet, from our circumstances and our situations, and see the fields are ripe and white unto harvest!
When we look up, we see our true satisfaction comes from obeying God, setting our focus back on the harvest and on the Lord of the harvest—not from the things of this world. Souls are crying out for a taste of the Lord’s goodness, and we have an obligation to feed them. When we take our eyes off of ourselves, begin to look at the needs of others, and do the will of the Father, we find great satisfaction and fulfillment. And souls are added to the Kingdom.
A WORD FULFILLED
I had a particular experience years ago that stirred my heart on the vastness of the harvest field. It was 1979, and I wasn’t serving the Lord. I was living in a sinful lifestyle. But two pastors approached me saying that God would use me in an evangelistic way and that He would open doors for me into Australia and Japan. Two years later, I surrendered to God and told Him I would go wherever He wanted me to.
Not long after that, I picked up a hitchhiker who turned out to be an Australian tri-athlete who was traveling around the world. Through a series of mishaps, he lost his passport and belongings and ended up staying with me for several weeks. During that time, I had the privilege of leading Him to the Lord. He eventually became a pastor, and that relationship opened up many doors for me to minister in Australia over the years. I’ve ministered in 40-50 other nations as well. But the one place I did not go to was Japan.
Japan has always had a special place in my heart because I am half-Japanese. My mother was Japanese and I was born in Japan, but I have lived in America most of my life. We moved to the U.S. with my dad, who was in the Navy, when I was three. Later, after my parents had divorced and my mom re-married—my stepfather was also in the Navy—we moved back to Japan, where I attended an American high school.
I had not been to Japan for decades, but when the Kobe earthquake occurred in 1995, I had the privilege of going back to see how the ministry could help. One evening while I was there, I went up to the room where I was staying and began to weep uncontrollably. I was so overwhelmed by the needs of the Japanese people. Not only were there great material needs because of the earthquake, but there were vast spiritual needs. I was burdened by the brokenness of the people and I began to once again hear the cries of the multitudes of people in the valley of decision. The Lord was allowing me to feel a small part of His heartache for the lost.
Since that time, God has taken me back many times to help following earthquakes, tsunamis, and other natural disasters. I’ve had the privilege of praying for people in their parliament, which they call the Diet, and I’ve prayed privately for many other people in their government. God has done some amazing things there. I’m praying now about the 2020 Olympics that will be held there, asking God how He might use us to be involved in serving and ministering. My heart’s desire is to see the Land of the Rising Sun become known as the Land of the Risen Son.
Earlier this year (2019), I was talking to missionaries and pastors serving on the Texas-Mexico border in a place called Roma. We had sent truckloads of resources to help with the earthquake in Mexico City and most recently assisted local churches that were providing aid to the humanitarian crisis there. The wife of one of the missionaries told me, “My dad says he knows you. He’s a pastor in Houston, and before you started serving the Lord he and another pastor had a word for you outside of your exercise business. They saw you were running from the call of God on your life.” Now, I’m coming back to this message I wrote in 1995 and I’m reconnected with the very pastors who gave me that word!
I share this, first, because it validates how God speaks to us through impressions, words, and dreams. But it always has to be filtered directly through His written Word so we know it’s not contrary to his nature, character, works, and spirit. And second, I share it because my heart continues to break over the needs of so many around the world as well as the state of our own nation. God wants the Church, through our knee posture and being in His presence, to be willing to get up and obey when He says go. And everywhere we go, He will come, because when we’re in His presence we bring it with us.
WILLING SERVANTS, SURRENDERED HEARTS
God is preparing us to go and He wants to us to be aware of the wiles of the devil, but to give no place to him. We go in the power of the Risen King, and His presence goes before us and His presence is in us.
The harvest is still plentiful and the laborers are still too, too few. Are we willing to be those laborers? I believe that because of the long periods of peace and prosperity in America we, the American Church, have sometimes become apathetic and complacent in our comforts. But the Lord is stirring us again; everything that can be shaken will be shaken. We cannot just say, “God I will do whatever you want”–we must be willing to do whatever God wants. We have to obey.
Many of us pray, “God whatever it takes, whatever You want, I want to do it.” Yet, when the time comes, we’re so comfortable in our circumstances that we don’t want to take a step of faith to go. I recall how the children of Israel all agreed and said to Jeremiah, “Whatever God wants, go find out and we will do it.” They all agreed. But when Jeremiah came back and told them what God wanted them to do, they called him a liar (Jeremiah 42:1-11, 20-21; 43:2). They spoke the right words with their lips but their hearts had already decided what they wanted to hear. So the question comes back to us, “Do we really have ears to hear what the Lord is saying today?” The Way of The Cross means saying, “Not my will, but Your will be done.”
When we look at the book of Leviticus, one of the five offerings that was presented as a sacrifice to God was called the burnt offering, which represents total surrender to the Father’s will. That’s what Jesus did when He prayed, “Father, not my will but Your will be done.” Jesus actually became the burnt offering, a sacrifice offered up to God for us. Likewise, we are told in Romans 12:1 to “offer yourselves as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable unto God.” We are to follow after Him.
Jesus didn’t say, take up My cross and follow Me. He said, take up your cross and follow Me. Our lives are the sacrifice we offer to God, our wholehearted obedience to His will. When we hear God speak, we must die to our own desires, even if He asks us to do something we don’t want to do. There are times I have said to Him, “OK, I’ll go and I’ll do this or that, but I don’t want to.” But every time I obeyed and went, I was so glad I did because it fulfilled a longing in my heart.
As we look back at Luke 10:1, we see that Jesus is making a promise to the disciples. As He commissioned them to go into each place two by two, He promised that if they would go, He would come. God is saying to us, “I want you to go and prepare in every city and place where I send you and then I will come. If you will go, then I will come”. I believe God is about to move mightily, like we have never seen, and we must be willing and faithful to go where He sends us.
It is not a sacrifice to serve God, it’s a privilege. Will we be those laborers who will help in the mighty harvest of souls? God continues to ask this question of us as a ministry, as individuals, and corporately. I believe God is saying to all of us, simply, “Say yes! Make yourselves available and obey and I will give you the desires of your heart!”
THE HORSES ARE SADDLED!
Years ago, Gabi, who was on staff with our ministry, submitted a dream she had to us. In that dream, she was standing by a hillside, and from the right-hand side, going down to the left, she saw two powerful horses running by—first one, then right behind it another one. It was pointed out to her in the dream that they were neither black nor white. After a short while, many horses were running down the hill. It was pointed out to her that there were saddles on the horses but no one was sitting on them. She somehow knew the horses had a goal, as if they were going into battle. She felt strongly that she needed to find out what it meant and specifically to find out what the horses symbolize.
Little did she realize that just a few days before I was sharing a message about preparing the Bride. I quoted Jeremiah 12:5, which reads, “If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with the horses?” The verse goes on to add, especially when you have been living in the land of peace.
Shortly after this, a word came forth from one of our leaders during one of our Friday Night meetings:
“You have heard it said in times past that the Lord of the universe laid aside His glory and crown to walk among men, meekly and humbly, as a shepherd amongst His sheep. And during this time, many of you have grown weary in the waiting and have become entangled in things that have damaged you greatly, and you cried to the Lord, ‘How long Lord, how long until the Lord hears my cry and delivers me from my afflictions?’ Know this, that even now the Lord is stirring Himself to visit His people. But this time it will not be with a shepherd’s crook but a sword. He is not riding on a donkey but a great white horse, and His name is called Faithful and True; and He is coming in the clouds with power to receive His bride which has adorned herself and which is without spot, wrinkle, or blemish.”
There was something specific God was speaking to us concerning these horses. We needed to understand what the horses represented in the first dream, and we needed to understand what God was saying about the horses through this prophetic word.
In the dream, the horses had no specific color. There were just two strong horses and behind were multitudes of others saddled up and prepared to go into battle. Next, the Lord was saying that He Himself is coming on a white horse with a sword, preparing the Bride. In Luke 10:1-2, it says that we are to go before Him in every city and place that He is about to go. The pieces began to fit together.
I believe God was saying then as He is saying today: “Church, saddle up. Saddle up. The horses are going into battle, but where are my laborers who are going to ride on those horses? No longer entangle yourselves with the footmen, but get on the horses and fight the battle upon the horses of God.”
God wants to send laborers into every city and place where He is about to go or manifest Himself. The challenge is that the harvest is truly great but the laborers are still too few. Laborers are servants of the Lord. Serving is work and serving is sacrifice in the natural, but what a privilege and honor it is to serve God! We are to offer ourselves as living sacrifices and to serve this generation. He anoints the sacrifice.
We must offer ourselves not in words only, but giving our lives to service as seed for the soils of souls. We must give our lives in total surrender to the Father’s will, and then He will consume us with His anointing and presence. God anoints the living, breathing temples of the Holy Spirit that have been bought with the price of the blood of Jesus. He wants to consume us as living sacrifices, and His glory will fill our temples.
As a corporate Body of believers, when we gather in brokenness at the Cross, saying, “God what is Your will for us? What is Your will for the corporate Body?” then together we become a corporate, anointed structure of people who say, “God, not my will, but Your will be done.”
God is looking for individuals whose hearts are His and whom He can trust to do His will. Are we willing to be those servants and offer ourselves as living sacrifices? Are we individually willing to serve this generation who desperately need the Lord? To be those who are not settled in complacency but are willing to say, “Yes Lord, here I am”? I believe God is searching the Church to find for Himself those who have not compromised. He will illuminate the Church to find those He can truly trust—those who are His Bride, without spot or blemish.
We are that army that He is calling to be prepared. If we truly believe He is coming, then let’s do something about it. Let’s saddle up and go! And if we go, He will come.
by Doug Stringer, September 2019
Updated and adapted from “If We Go, He Will Come,” published 1995